At one with the moment

The objects by Studio Brynjar & Veronika cannot easily be pigeonholed under labels such as “design” or “art”; they are in a category that is entirely their own. Seemingly ritualistic and somewhat odd, yet made from largely natural materials that nevertheless imply familiarity. “We are continually trying breaking away from predefined patterns,” says the duo.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 5/28/2020

Anyone who wants to think freely needs to maintain an openness to things, to the way they are, free of expectations, free of rules. In 2011, Brynjar Sigurðarson founded his studio, Veronika Sedlmair joined 2014. Together as Studio Brynjar & Veronika they have been setting themselves the challenge ever since of translating transient experience into objects. They try not to consider how a material is worked in the established sense, but rather preserve the joy in interdisciplinary experimentation, in childlike curiosity. “Even if our ideas are sometimes so absurd that the craftsmen we work with throw their hands up in despair,” laughs Sedlmair. One factor that is so profound as to influence their work time and again is Brynjar Sigurðarson’s homeland: Iceland. The raw and yet multifaceted landscape in which nature retains the upper hand even today and the extraordinary culture of its inhabitants fascinates the duo. “In Iceland there are hardly any trees; instead the geology – the sand, the lava and the different types of rock – is ever present,” says Sigurðarson. In order to get as close as possible to this primordial setting, he spent four weeks away from Reykjavik in Vopnafjörður, a tiny village in the northeast of the country. During this time, he learned the traditional techniques of knotting from a fisher man and shark hunterer. Using this and other finds from his travels such as bits of fur and feathers, he transposed his impressions into “The Silent Village Collection”, an abstract collection of furniture for Galerie Kreo in Paris. “We allow ourselves to be guided by the process rather than by a prefabricated idea,” says Sigurðarson.

Human beings, their culture and their interaction with nature provide much inspiration. With “Prik”, they explored the human connection to sticks – as weapons, walking aids and tools – on behalf of the Spark Design Space in Reykjavik. Alongside anthropology and geology, the pair are also involved with spatial perception and performance art on the side: “We aim to be a channel, a form of communication and translation for the things that surround us. Simplifying internal and external flows and capturing them in our own words,” explains Veronika Sedlmair. These might even be turned into sound: For “The Circle Flute”, they joined forces with Lafayette Anticipations and Parisian instrument-maker Jean-Yves Roosen to build a new, circular instrument for four flutists and one person in the center of the flute with has a diameter of 2.5 meters. Thanks to the changed constellation and mechanics of the flutes, new, atmospheric tonal dimensions became possible, which gently surround the listener or the singer in the middle of the circle. “The creation of the flute was our reaction to the atmosphere in Paris, a city in which performing arts and music have a very strong presence,” says Sigurðarson. Since then the flute has been travelling inter alia to flute conventions and on tour with icelandic singer Björk which sings in the center of the flute in her recent concerts.

Atelier Swarovski Home Collection by Studio Brynjar & Veronika

Hidden beauties

Capturing the special moment, being at one with it – approaches that were similarly crucial in their collaboration with Swarovski after they were presented with the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award in 2016. For the exhibition, they made several crystal sticks, each a good two metres long, as well as a window blind whose slats are made of crystal. When the sunlight falls on the blind, the colors of the light spectrum become visible in a magnificent way. In 2017, as part of the Atelier Swarovski Home Collection, they subsequently presented "Currents" at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, a trio of polygonal paperweights made of faceted crystal that create an interplay of function, sculpture, energy and light.

The flexibility of the objects is a reflection of Veronika Sedlmair and Brynjar Sigurðarson themselves, who are always on the move, ready for the next step, the next challenge. They have recently relocated their lives and their studio to Immenstadt in the Allgäu region of Bavaria, where Veronika Sedlmair hails from. It’s the perfect place to wait patiently while the world has been brought to a standstill, since nature is always close at hand. “During the time we have spent in big cities like Berlin or Paris, we worked a lot digitally, but now we’re building bigger objects again,” says Sigurðarson. In their work together, they complement each other perfectly: Sedlmair is a trained interior designer, while Sigurðarson studied product design. They combine their skills from their classic training paths with an artistic spirit: “Veronika has a keen sense of energies, the interaction between people, culture and space. I prefer to create things with my hands,” he explains. They are currently refining an abstract vocabulary they hope to realize through 3D printing. In CIRVA, a glass research center in Marseille, they are also continuing – whenever possible – to delve further into the technique of “pâte de verre”, the basis of which is a paste made of glass powder and pigments. This project, which has lasted some years, saw its debut in the multicolored vase series “Spectrum” back in 2012. Plans are also underway for an installation with stones from the Atlantic Coast scheduled to be exhibited at this year’s “Momentum” art biennial in the Norwegian town of Moss. “It’s all about bringing together the many voices that accompany you in your work and manifesting pure presence within an object,” says Sigurðarson.